Democracy In the New Year

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Sondra Cosgrove
January 29, 2024

Photo: San Diego City Council Members with members of the local Filipino Community

This new year, which is an election year, will be filled with discussions, debates, and diatribes. Everyone, from your neighbor to political parties, will try to set a hostile tone and tenor for these conversations, but we have the power to do something different. We have the communication tools necessary to interact with each other directly and civilly without outside interference.

The first step along this alternative path is to create anew set of rules for speaking to each other, regardless of whether we agree on everything or not. We can reach a consensus, but only if we stop interacting with just those who agree with us on every issue. This isn’t just a pipe dream; it’s imperative to move beyond the awful state of public discourse that dominates right now, and one way to do so is to start talking to each other without filters or gatekeepers.

In short, we need rules for bridging the gap between what we disagree about and what we agree we can accomplish through broad coalitions that address specific issues. Because we only see allies where we agree one hundred percent on all issues, problems like untreated mental illness and chronic homelessness have persisted and grown exponentially worse.  If we could set aside differences on other issues long enough to work together where we have common ground, much more could be accomplished.

Let’s start 2024 by addressing shared goals, instead of worrying about each coalition members’ total set of priorities. No purity tests and no cancel culture. If problems arise in a coalition, let’s work them out. There may be a limited number and type of goals eligible for such coalitions, but isn’t it worth it to finally fix problems like humanely treating mental illness and solving chronic homelessness?

Just think about the example this will set for the upcoming generation of young voters if we can choose to get along. Please stay engaged, so we can use 2024 to get to a better place on important issues.